Jewish Group Supports Asylum Seekers

December 9, 2010 by Deborah Stone
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A Jewish anti-racism group has called on Australians to welcome asylum-seekers into their communities and embrace the benefits refugees can offer Australia.

The B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) says the attempt by the Australia First Party to drum up fear and opposition to asylum seekers undermines Australia’s tolerant and multicultural society.

ADC Chairman Anton Block noted that the peak national body of the Australian Jewish community, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, had recently adopted a policy calling on the Australian government to implement in good faith and with humanity, Australia’s important legal and moral obligations with respect to refugees and urging all Australians to engage in discussion of the issues in a considered and respectful manner and without resorting to pejorative generalisations.

Mr Block said his organisation endorsed this policy, noting “As part of a community of people who came to Australia as migrants and refugees and who made successful lives here I believe we have an obligation to share this country with victims of war and terror. We are the beneficiaries of a generous Australia which opened its doors to us as refugees after World War II.”

He also expressed the view that the Federal Government needs to increase its efforts to move asylum seekers out of detention centres and into the community and that the wider community needs to understand that these arrivals represent an opportunity not a threat to Australia.

“Many members of our community are now successful in business or professions and are able to make great contributions to Australia. In fact former refugees have been a great asset who over time have enriched our society both culturally and economically.”

Mr Block also endorsed the ECAJ’s opposition to the mandatory detention of women and children asylum seekers saying that these practices revived memories of a darker period of Jewish history.

“We know that the circumstances that make people flee their homes are harsh and complicated and do not always allow stringent adherence to authorised entry procedures. Most asylum seekers have been found to be genuine refugees who just want a decent life for themselves and their children.”

Mr Block said racist elements in Australia were creating unjustified hysteria about asylum-seekers, which was flowing through to negative attitudes towards other migrants and Australians from minority groups.

“The idea we are being swamped by illegal migrants or that boat people are not real refugees is just nonsense. Ninety percent of migrants to Australia are legal and most asylum-seekers who come without visas have been found to be legitimate refugees.

“We need to remind ourselves that Australia was built by migrants and by people fleeing persecution and that asylum-seekers have a great deal to offer our country.”


2 Responses to “Jewish Group Supports Asylum Seekers”
  1. Paul winter says:

    Australia should show compassion and generosity to refugees, say like the Hazara of Afghanistan. But to assert that the queue jumpers are refugees is plainly wrong. People who are not in danger of their lives are not refugees. People from poor societies who can pay people smugglers tens of thousands of dollars and then arrive without the documentation they used to cross borders are not genuine refugees. such queue jumpers distort our migrant intake and they upset resettlement efforts of the UNHCR, which needs to look after poorer older genuine refugees longer. And to be non-PC, the migrants like Jews, Italians, Greek, etc integrated with the community and mostly kept their historic differences at arm’s length. The current crop like the muslims, bring radicalism and crime, not in the new arrivals, but those born in Australia. There is no reason for muslims to seek refuge in the West instead of in one of the 57 muslim nations, and in Australia, to foment hate against Australians for our country’s involvement in Iraq or Afghanistan and to work against Jews.The Sri Lankans could just as easily find refuge in Tamil Nadu. As a civilised country we must give asylum to the persecuted. Being in a war zone or in poverty is not persecution. The human rights industry needs to pause, take a deep breath and to start thinking clearly. Oh, and by the way, I was a refugee and am now a proud and happy Australian.

  2. McMacO'Me says:

    More double standards. Israel cracks down on immigrations because according to them, it is a “threat to the Jewish character of Israel”, and yet at the same time, they open the door for immigrants in other people’s nations.

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